(NewsBreakDaily.org) – The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) and the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) in South Dakota put up checkpoints on federal and state highways earlier this year to help control the spread of COVID-19. With the push to reopen states heating up, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) sent a somewhat tersely-worded letter to the leaders of those nations.
Today I sent letters to two South Dakota tribes asking them to immediately cease interfering with or regulating traffic on US and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints. (1/3)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) May 8, 2020
Native American governments are very protective of their status as sovereign nations — separate from federal and state intrusions. By treaty, the health and welfare of their citizens is their responsibility, including response to the pandemic.
However, elected officials like Gov. Noem desperately want the American economy to return to some semblance of normality. Having traffic stopped at reservation borders is not conducive to that end. The main problem is the high-handed way she and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are responding.
Beyond the governor’s threat of “legal action” if her 48-hour deadline is not met, the BIA responded by telling tribal leaders the federal and state governments “own” the highways running through the reservations. This is not being taken well by tribal members and resulted in a sharp rebuke by the head of the CRST, Chairman Harold Frazier. He combated the statement with references to treaties and the Constitution.
This case is a prime example of two nations trying to do the best they can for their people but conflicted on how to do that. It also highlights the tensions brewing throughout the country caused by some states moving to reopen while others maintain their lockdowns.
Copyright 2020, NewsBreakDaily.org